Need to know who's buying what in Europe? Check with GfK. One of the largest market research firms on the European continent, GfK (which stands for Growth from Knowledge) tracks consumers' tastes in and purchases of grocery and nonfood items, broadcast media, pharmaceuticals, and other merchandise and services worldwide. Known as the GfK Group, it operates through 150 companies that are organized across three primary divisions: Retail and Technology, Media, and Custom Research. Other businesses within those divisions include GfK NOP, GfK MRI, and GfK Healthcare. The research company traces its historical roots to 1934.
Through acquisitions, GfK is focused on expanding its existing operations, as well as newer digital media measurement operations. It also seeks to achieve targeted growth in emerging markets. In 2012 the company acquired Bridgehead International, a market access consultancy serving global companies in the pharmaceutical, medical device, and diagnostics industries. Also in 2012 GfK acquired Knowledge Networks, a provider of online research products and services catering to the consumer packaged goods, health care, retail, media, government, and education sectors. The deal strengthened GfK's position in the US, the world's largest market research market, and gave it access to KnowledgePanel, which reaches a vast representative sample of the US population.
GfK operates internationally through a number of key partnerships and acquisitions. In the US, it operates NPD Intelect (25%-owned) with NPD Group, and in the UK it has partnered with TNS to form Europanel (50%). In 2011 the firm acquired a majority share of GfK Egypt. The prior year, GfK established an independent subsidiary in Saudi Arabia, one of the first market research firms to be granted a license to establish a presence in the region. Also in 2010 the firm launched an office in Kenya and obtained a majority stake in a custom research firm in India (GfK Mode).
GfK's ability to diversify its revenue base widely across different regions has made it somewhat resilient to the sluggish economy. For 2010 GfK's revenue increases were particularly strong in the growth regions of Latin America, Central and Eastern Europe, and the Asia/Pacific. It also generated $111 million in profit, the highest net income it has achieved in the company's 76-year history.
Non-profit organization GfK-Nürnberg owns 57% of the voting rights GfK.
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